Kelley Henry

Kelley Henry is the Chief of the Federal Public Defender Capital Habeas Unit in Nashville, Tennessee. Kelley supervises a staff of 20. Together they represent more than half of Tennessee’s death row. Kelley is also lead counsel in two federal capital post-conviction cases. Kelley’s career in indigent defense began in 1989 as the first legal intern for the Missouri Capital Punishment Resource Center. Kelley has been involved in capital litigation since then. She has represented men and women in capital trial, appellate, post-conviction, habeas, § 1983, and clemency proceedings. Kelley is admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court, Tennessee and Missouri. She is also admitted in the 6th, 8th, 9th, and 10th Circuits of the United States Court of Appeals. Kelley was lead counsel in the clemency campaign for Gaile Owens whose sentence was commuted by Governor Phil Bredesen. Owens was later released from prison. Kelley was also lead counsel for 29 Tennessee Death Row Plaintiffs in the 2018 challenge to Tennessee’s new lethal injection protocol. Kelley is the 2019 recipient of the American Bar Association Death Penalty Representation Project’s Justice John Paul Stevens Guiding Hand of Counsel Award. She is the 2012 and 2019 co-recipient of the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Bill Redick Death Penalty Award. Currently, Kelley is lead counsel for Pervis Payne, an intellectually disabled black man convicted at 20 for the murder of a white woman and her child in Shelby County, Tennessee.